The 2017 Election in Papua New Guinea

50 Pages Posted: 19 Jul 2019

See all articles by Terence Wood

Terence Wood

Australian National University (ANU) - Crawford School of Public Policy

Maholopa Laveil

University of Papua New Guinea

Date Written: July 19, 2019


This paper draws on the Papua New Guinea Election Results Database alongside other data to study the 2017 General Election in Papua New Guinea. The paper shows that the 2017 elections suffered significant problems, even by the standards of other countries of similar levels of development. Amongst other issues, the paper finds worrying patterns of roll inflation in parts of the Highlands. In terms of election outcomes, we find some evidence that women candidates are becoming more competitive, although improvements are modest and trends uncertain. We also demonstrate that the relationship between candidate numbers and incumbent re-election, first found by David Hegarty in the 1980s still exists and is statistically robust. Finally, we conduct an in-depth study into the Limited Preferential Voting (LPV) system. We find LPV brought an increase in invalid ballots and a boost in women candidate competitiveness, but that many other anticipated changes appear not to have eventuated. However, importantly, in 2017 it appears some voters cast their second and third preferences along national lines as a protest vote against the Prime Minister’s party. Voting on national issues is thought to be rare in Papua New Guinea, and if LPV is facilitating it, the system may ultimately bring larger political changes, although this is far from guaranteed.

Keywords: Papua New Guinea, election, roll inflation, preferential voting

JEL Classification: O38, F50

Suggested Citation

Wood, Terence and Laveil, Maholopa, The 2017 Election in Papua New Guinea (July 19, 2019). Development Policy Centre Discussion Paper No. 83, 2019, Available at SSRN: or

Terence Wood (Contact Author)

Australian National University (ANU) - Crawford School of Public Policy ( email )

7 Liversidge Street
Lennox Crossing
Canberra, Australian Capital Territory ACT 0200

Maholopa Laveil

University of Papua New Guinea ( email )

P.O. Box 320, University Post Office
National Capital District

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